“Imagine…” is the theme for the 135th Messiah Festival and audiences will be asked to do just that when they take part in Messiah Festival activities this year. The Festival staff is seeking active audience participation and will ask for responses to complete the phrase, “Imagine…” at each Festival event.
Kicking off the Festival will be the Bethany Theatre Department’s production of Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians” on March 18 and 19, directed by Professor Greg LeGault. Bethany’s Theatre Department is, at this time, one of a small number of non-professional/educational theatres nationwide to acquire production rights to the play, which made its New York City premiere on September 18, 2015, at Playwrights Horizons. A talk-back session will be scheduled in conjunction with the production. Ticket prices and production times will be announced on www.messiahfestival.org later this fall.
The Bethany Art Department continues its high-caliber contributions to the Festival with the Juried Art Exhibit and Student Art Installations in downtown Lindsborg, running throughout the month of March. The Juried Student Art Exhibit is juried by regional artists and educators from around the country, and several hundred pieces are submitted by Bethany art students each year for inclusion in the exhibit. The exhibit will be on display, at the Mingenback Art Center, on the corner of 2nd and Olsson Streets in Lindsborg, throughout the month of March. The Student Art Installations program is celebrating its fourth year and can be viewed at various storefront windows in downtown Lindsborg during the month of March.
On Palm Sunday, March 20, a special concert event entitled “A Musical Tribute to Dr. Walter J. Pelz” will be offered at 3 p.m. in Presser Auditorium, directed by Dr. Mark Lucas. This tribute concert will include a retrospective of the musical compositions of Dr. Pelz, with a special featured performance of “Lord of Land.” Special guest performers include Anders Jalkéus, and the Bethany Oratorio Society Chorus and Orchestra.
Dr. Pelz is a long-time Bethany College music professor and renowned musician, who began his career at Bethany College in 1969. He retired in 1989 to devote more time to composing and performing. Dr. Pelz has received local, statewide and national recognitions for his outstanding work with students and choirs, and for his composing and performance skills in organ music.
The public is invited to contribute stories, thoughts, and special memories of Dr. Pelz by contacting the Messiah Festival Office at 785-227-3311, ext. 8229. Further details about this large-scale tribute event will be announced on www.messiahfestival.org later this fall.
The Festival will continue with a variety of other musical performances beginning with a Soloist’s Recital on Monday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Presser Auditorium. This event will feature the Bach and Handel oratorio soloists, performing their own selections and favorite pieces. On Tuesday, March 22, the annual Symphonic Band Performance can be enjoyed by the whole family and on Thursday, March 24, at 2:30 p.m., the best and brightest of Bethany Music students take center stage in the Honors Recital. All of these events are free and open to the public, and all held in Presser Auditorium on the Bethany College campus.
Good Friday, March 25, sees the 86th annual performance of the Bethany Oratorio Society’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” by J.S. Bach, and directed by Dr. Lucas. Six professional operatic soloists will join the Oratorio Society in this rich musical narrative experience. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., in Presser Auditorium.
The 135th Messiah Festival will conclude with the historic performance of Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday, March 27, at 3 p.m. in Presser Auditorium, by the Bethany Oratorio Society and four of today’s brightest operatic talents, also directed by Dr. Lucas. The foundational event of the Messiah Festival of the Arts, this concert has long been an incredible musical experience for thousands of patrons every Holy Week since 1882. The performance will begin at 3 p.m. in Presser Auditorium.
More details about tickets, special guest performers and soloists, and additional season announcements can be found at www.messiahfestival.org. Patrons can also request a season brochure to be sent to their homes by calling the Messiah Festival Office at 785-227-3311, ext. 8229.